- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Promoter Don King pulled a surprise on Tuesday, winning the right to promote the Marco Huck-Ola Afolabi mandatory cruiserweight title fight for a whopping $1.5 million at a purse bid held in Miami.
King, who does not promote either fighter, blew away the two other offers made at the WBO auction for the promotional rights, which was called because the promoters of the fighters could not reach an agreement.
Sauerland Event, which promotes Huck, the titleholder, bid $944,444
while K2 Promotions, which promotes interim titlist Afolabi, bid $375,000. The minimum bid was $300,000.
According to WBO president Paco Valcarcel, who conducted the purse bid, King told the organization that he plans to put the fight on May 25 in Germany, Huck's home country.
Sauerland Event and K2 Promotions both expressed surprise that King bid on the fight.
Under King's bid, Huck is entitled to 80 percent of the money ($1.2 million) and Afolabi is entitled to 20 percent ($300,000).
Huck (35-2-1, 25 KOs) outpointed England native Afolabi (19-2-4, 9 KOs) in a 2009 title defense and also retained the title in a May 2012 draw in one of the best fights of the year, and the WBO ordered a third fight.
King had to put down a 10 percent deposit for winning the purse bid ($150,000) and has 15 days to return signed fighter contracts to the sanctioning organization.
Whether the fight really comes off under the terms of King's bid remains to be seen. He has bid on fights before and defaulted. For example, late last year he bid $1.1 million on the heavyweight title elimination fight between Cristobal Arreola and Bermane Stiverne, whom King promotes, but defaulted. The rights then went to the second-place bidder, Arreola promoter Dan Goossen, who bid $550,000 and worked out a deal for HBO to buy the fight.
King also won a purse bid earlier this month for another cruiserweight title fight between titleholder Denis Lebedev and Guillermo Jones, bidding a stunning $712,000. That fight remains unscheduled, although perhaps King will try to pair Huck-Afolabi and Lebedev-Jones on the same show, which would raise the profile of both fights.
King's options to find a television buyer in Germany to pay for Huck-Afolabi appear limited. ARD has an exclusive deal to televise Sauerland Event-promoted fights. RTL works closely with K2 Promotions, but only shows the fights involving company owners and heavyweight champions Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko.